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Proposed Amendments to IPC, CRPC, and Evidence Act 2023: A Legal Perspective

The Bills proposing amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), and the Evidence Act encompass a myriad of salient features that aim to address various shortcomings within the criminal justice system. This article undertakes a detailed analytical examination of these proposed amendments, shedding light on their potential implications and the broader legal landscape they seek to reshape.

Digitization of Criminal Justice Process:
The proposed digitization of the entire criminal justice process, from FIR registration to judgment delivery, is a transformative step towards efficiency and transparency. This modernization can streamline proceedings, reduce paperwork, and expedite justice delivery.

Video Conferencing for Trial:
Facilitating complete trials, including cross-examinations, through video conferencing can revolutionize courtroom procedures. This move addresses logistical challenges, enhances witness protection, and accelerates the trial process.

Videography of Statements and Search & Seizure:
Mandatory videography of victims' statements in sexual crimes and during search & seizure operations bolsters the authenticity of evidence. This could potentially deter manipulation and ensure a fair and accurate portrayal of events.

Timelines for Filing Charge Sheet and Judgment:
The stipulation of timeframes for filing charge sheets and delivering judgments reinforces the principle of speedy justice. However, provisions for extensions acknowledge the complexity of certain cases and ensure thorough examination.

Online Availability of Judgments:
Mandating the online publication of judgments within 7 days enhances transparency, accessibility, and public accountability. This move aligns with the global trend of open justice and promotes a better-informed society.

Forensic Teams and Mobile FSLs:
Requiring forensic teams to visit crime scenes for serious offenses and deploying mobile Forensic Science Laboratories (FSLs) at the district level enhances evidence collection and analysis, potentially strengthening the prosecution's case.

Mob Lynching Provision:
The introduction of a distinct provision to address mob lynching, with penalties ranging from 7 years' imprisonment to the death penalty, is a significant step towards curbing this menace. This provision emphasizes the severity of such crimes and aims to deter potential offenders, thereby safeguarding the fundamental right to life and personal security.

Zero FIR' and Jurisdiction:
The formalization of the 'Zero FIR' concept is a progressive move, empowering citizens to report crimes at any police station, irrespective of jurisdiction. This ensures prompt action and prevents delays in initiating investigations, ultimately enhancing access to justice.

Deemed Sanction' for Prosecution:
The concept of 'deemed sanction' adds an element of accountability to the prosecution of civil servants and police officers accused of criminal offenses. By mandating prosecution in case of authority's inaction within 120 days, this provision promotes transparency and combats potential misuse of power.

Separate Provisions for Specific Offenses:
The inclusion of separate provisions for organized crimes, rape under false pretexts, chain snatching, and similar offenses underscores the intent to address specific societal challenges with tailored legal responses.

Commutation of Sentences:
The provision limiting the commutation of death penalties, life terms, and shorter sentences underscores the gravity of certain offenses. This calibrated approach aims to balance punishment and rehabilitation, while accounting for the severity of the crime.

The Concluding Note:
The proposed amendments to the IPC, CRPC, and Evidence Act signify a comprehensive overhaul of India's criminal justice system. By addressing specific shortcomings and introducing innovative measures, these amendments strive to expedite justice delivery, enhance accountability, and ensure the protection of individual rights. While the efficacy of these changes will depend on their implementation and interpretation, they reflect a significant stride towards a more just and efficient legal framework.

Information and discussion contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for expert advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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